Powder Coating vs. Paint on Railings: Choosing a Railing Coating That’s Safe and Attractive

powder coating vs. paint on railings

A high-quality powder coating won’t chip, crack, or peel, making your railing safer, more attractive, and less work to maintain.

For me, enjoying beautiful weather during the summer means spending quality time with a book poolside on my back deck, but for my family, summer means barbecue season. We usually invite over a bunch of our friends to swim and eat burgers from the grill a couple times each summer, which means not only does the pool and grill have to be spick and span, but the deck also has to be cleaned and in good shape. Luckily, though, we never have to worry about the deck railing because we installed a super durable, low maintenance metal railing with a powder coated finish.

Wait a second, you may be asking, what exactly is powder coating and why does that matter? Well, it matters a lot if you like to protect your metal railing from rust and save money in the process. The best railing manufacturers have moved away from using wet paints and now use powder coated finishes for UV resistance, corrosion resistance, health and environmental safety, and incredible durability that can save you money on maintenance. So if you’re set on a metal railing but want to avoid rust, powder coating is the way to go. If you’re still not convinced, you should know that not only is there a list of reasons why powder coating is better than paint, but there are also a few reasons why paint is not a great choice when it comes to covering your deck railing.

The Problems with Painted Deck Railings

While paint may work great on the walls of your living room, it’s not the best choice for your deck railing. Paint tends to perform poorly outdoors because it doesn’t have properties that can withstand the elements. Moisture, sun, wind, sand, dirt, and normal wear and tear can cause paint to flake and fade. This is not only unattractive for your deck, but also doesn’t provide any protection for the metal of your railing. The problems you might experience with a painted railing are:

  • No corrosion resistance: Paint provides little in the way of corrosion resistance for metal railings. To completely prevent rust and other types of corrosion, it needs to cover every surface of the metal exposed to the air. Paint chips and cracks easily so this means your railing will probably need to be repainted frequently. You’ll also want to use a rust-preventing primer before painting the railing, and it will still likely need repainting every so often.
  • Peels and cracks: While a fresh coat of paint looks great on your deck railing, over time it will begin to peel and crack. Besides the obvious risk of rust, it also makes your railing unattractive, and it can be costly to redo. Along with these issues, peeling and cracking paint can pose a health risk if kids or pets ingest it, or if peeling paint exposes rusting surfaces where kids can get cut.
  • Bad for the environment: Paints generally contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are released as vapors or gases from the paint, especially right after the paint has been applied. These compounds aren’t great for your health–they may even do damage to vital organs, and many of these compounds are carcinogens–and they’re also bad for the environment, because they can deplete the ozone layer. So your painted railing could actually be harming the air that you are breathing, and for me, that definitely puts a damper on my backyard fun.

Benefits of Powder Coating Your Deck Railing

Powder coating is used across a variety of industries to protect against the elements and to provide the cleanest finish to everything from furniture to automotive parts. But what exactly is powder coating and why is it better than paint? Well, powder coating is a process that uses a high-powered spray gun to coat something–in our case, a railing–with a polymer resin in powder form. Then that layer of powder is baked on to form an airtight seal and uniform finish. Because of this process, powder coating is much more durable than ordinary paints–it becomes almost a part of the metal itself. Some of the properties that you will find with a powder coated railing are:

  • UV Protection: A major benefit of powder coating over paint is its resistance to UV rays, which speed up the process of corrosion in metals. The process of powder coating cures the powder to form a seal onto the metal, protecting it from the harmful UV rays from the sun and providing some protection from the elements. However, powder coating is not 100% resistant to moisture (it’s very slightly porous), so it’s best to look for a railing manufacturer that also uses an e-coating beneath the powder coat to ensure your railing stays rust free long term.
  • Doesn’t flake or peel: Powder coating has a finish that is often twice as thick as paint, so it can withstand not only the elements but also a lot of bending and flexing, which is a real advantage for a deck railing. And since the application process bonds the resin to the metal, it makes the powder coating almost impossible to scratch or wear off, leaving you with the same gorgeous finish for years and years.
  • Non-toxic and safe for the environment: One big advantage of powder coating is that it has no VOCs that are harmful to your family or the environment. Powder coating is also inert and non-toxic, meaning you don’t have to worry if your dog loves to lick everything, including the railings.

So if you are getting your deck ready for summer fun like my family, you’ll be cleaning the pool and sweeping the deck, and making sure everything is as nice as you can make it. Because when the weather is perfect, the deck becomes another room of the home, and you want it to look its best. But while it might take a bit of maintenance to get your deck summer ready, it doesn’t have to involve repainting your metal railing. Choosing a railing with a powder coated finish will save you time and money. Plus, powder coating comes in a variety of colors and finish types, giving you the option to match your railing to your deck and home.

Lots of companies sell powder coated railing products, but keep in mind that not all powder coated railings are the same. Fortress Railing sells railings that have a high-quality powder coating, but that’s just the start. They coat the galvanized metal they use with a zinc precoat to help prevent corrosion, and then use an e-coat (designed by the auto industry to protect the undercarriages of cars from rust) to make sure that their railings stay completely corrosion free. And if you are looking to take on a larger project this summer like redoing your whole deck, I recommend checking out Fortress Building Products where you can find their easy-to-install composite decking that is UV, mold, and moisture resistant.